Both Obama and McCain Are Short on Long-Term Care Planning Policy

October is “Long-Term Care Planning Month,” according to founder Marilee Kern Driscoll, author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Long-Term Care Planning.” She begins the celebration by exploring what each of the presidential candidates has to say about long-term care.

I use the word “explore” because apparently Driscoll couldn’t find much on the topic except what each candidate had posted his respective Web site. Typically, and sadly, long-term care is not one of the top 10 campaign issues.

Sen. Obama’s web site promises, among other things, that he will work to give seniors choices about their care, consistent with their needs, and not biased towards institutional care. That’s all well and good, Driscoll agrees, but won’t that have the dreaded “woodwork effect” pointed out in the 1980’s by Rep. Claude Peters: If the government Medicaid program started paying for long-term care where individuals wanted it (NOT in a nursing home), applicants for this taxpayer-funded program would “come out of the woodwork.”

Sen. McCain’s proposal is problematic as well, says Driscoll, and is essentially a rehashing of programs that pay for in-home care for the financially and medically needed. He has no new ideas about how to finance long-term care for the middle-class.

Driscoll concludes that Americans are going to “have to wait to find out exactly what, if any, long-term care reforms these candidates will champion.”

Long term care options issues are going to explode over the next two decades. Private insurance is one solution, but it is expensive, and as we know from the many cases we have and continue to handle, benefits are not always paid when they should be and lawsuits become necessary. Is a government solution the answer? Maybe, but we will have to see what real solutions might be proposed by the victorious candidate and his new congress.

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